Photo courtesy of Universal/Warner Bros./Ringer illustration.

July 21, 2023.

It’s an anticipated day for the box office as “Barbie” goes head to head with “Oppenheimer” as both release in theaters. As different as they are, they have a way of complimenting each other.

You may be familiar with some of “Barbie” director Greta Gerwig’s works if you have watched highly-acclaimed films “Lady Bird” or “Little Women.” From my personal viewings of these films, they tend to have a much more intimate feel. Now, we all know the famous Mattel-designed doll known as Barbie in its many forms.

What can we expect from this film?

(Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures)

Academy award-winning Margot Robbie, who plays Barbie, completely transforms into the role that feels like she was born to play. Barbie comes from Barbieland; a perfect place free from harsh reality. Gerwig compares her interpretation of the upcoming film to the likes of old religious literature. Barbie lives a simple life until one day it isn’t.

She’s forced to face the unknown as she steps out into the real world. We follow Barbie through her journey of self-discovery with the help of the comedic relief Ken played by none other than Ryan Gosling. This story, although about a doll, is a story of vulnerability.

Barbie has had an incredible longevity, first debuting in 1959. In Germany, Ruth Handler came across Bild Lilli, a West German fashion doll, which was released in 1955. When Handler returned to the U.S., she realized there was nothing like the adult-figure doll in the American market.

So, Barbie was born.

She became a cultural icon in the 1960s, as she represented a huge number of jobs that women may have been neglected from, ranging from fashion designer to surgeon to astronaut and more 

Barbie didn’t only represent a girl-boss — before the term properly existed — but she also represented the freedom to be who you want to be in your “Barbie world.”

In an interview, when Robbie was asked who “Barbie” is meant for, she described it as a “party for everyone.” 

Then on the other side of July 21, there’s “Oppenheimer.”

Depending on the order people watch the “Barbenheimer” double-feature in, they could go from a bright, saturated fantasyland to an eerie, colorless world.

“Oppenheimer,” directed by decorated director Christopher Nolan, is a look-back on history.

Although it was estimated that around 500,000 people were involved in the creation of the atomic bomb, this story focuses more on who most people would call the “father of the atomic bomb.”

(Melinda Sue Gordon / Universal Pictures)

As we follow his personal story on his involvement in the making of the first nuclear weapon during World War II, we are faced with a harsh realization that we as humans are responsible for our own destruction.

Notable actor Cillian Murphy portrays theoretical physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer who led The Manhattan Project that created the atomic bomb that was eventually dropped on Japan during WWII. Though it was called the “Manhattan” Project, it actually took place in three “secret” cities throughout the U.S. — Oak Ridge, Tennessee; Hanford, Washington; and Los Alamos Ranch School in New Mexico, which is where Oppenheimer was stationed.

Then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed off on the project and raced off to see who could figure out who could build a bomb before Germany, who was allies with Japan and Italy (often referred to as the Axis Powers). 

But sure, we can focus on the historical aspect of the story, but it also leaves us with what this story truly serves as — a cautionary tale.

Gerwig’s film will serve as a much more pink saturated story of stepping into the unknown while Nolan’s will contrast what can most likely instill the fear of nuclear destruction.

I think both movies will be equally successful with a double feature — but withhold any expectations.

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